Introducing the Cross Cutting Telehealth Programme

Written by Paul Marriott on 28th April 2015

I am delighted to have been asked to lead the AHSN North East, North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) Telehealth Programme.  The Telehealth Programme is truly a cross-cutting piece of work which will focus on five clinical areas identified by the AHSN as priorities, these being Respiratory, Fractures, Mental Health, Arterial Fibrillation and Medicines Optimization.  Telehealth as a cross-cutting capability and tool will be used to improve the clinical pathways in each clinical theme.  This will include patient compliance with the clinical pathway, patient experience and the improvement of clinical outcomes and resource usage.

You would be forgiven for thinking Telehealth was a new innovation within the North East.  However we are proud to be regarded as one of the leaders of Telehealth implementation and innovation in the UK. Since 2009 there has been a small but growing use of Telehealth, which initially started in Sunderland and Gateshead within Community Nursing and began making significant progress in 2011 when the then Sunderland Teaching PCT formed the South of Tyne and Wear (STW) Telehealth Project.  In 2011 the STW Telehealth Project broke new ground and developed what we now call the Multi Matrix Model of Telehealth that uses the Kaiser triangle as a model for designing Telehealth interventions and pathways from conception and birth to end of life.  For example since 2012 there have been some 140 clinical Telehealth Pathways developed in the North East, ranging from Pregnancy to Mental Health, COPD and Heart Failure.  Our philosophy is not to focus on technology or systems, but to work with clinicians and patients to solve pinch points in the clinical pathway and then to look for the solutions in a world wide way.   Then we share what works with the whole of the health community.

2014 saw the AHSN NENC fund a number of innovative Telehealth Programmes one of which was the roll out of Innovative Telehealth across the North East, and another was the evaluation of Telehealth in pregnancy services.  Both programmes are due to report their outcomes later this year, however to date, they conjointly have had significant success and international recognition.  Pregnancy services were initially rolled out in three Foundation Trusts.  In May 2014 this had grown to five Regional Trusts with a further seven registering an intention to use the Telehealth pathway at the conclusion of the evaluation in May/June 2015.

In June 2014 the NHS was invited to showcase both the AHSN NENC programmes in Washington USA when the Department of Veterans Affairs in the US (which is the larges provider of healthcare in America) purchased the rights from the NHS to use the Telehealth Platform “Florence” in the US.

Finally in January 2015 the CQC Audited City Hospital Sunderland and in its final report said:

“We saw several areas of outstanding practice including the use of Telehealth in Maternity Services enabling women to monitor blood glucose levels and blood pressure in their own homes avoiding unnecessary visits to hospital.”

Over the coming months the AHSN NENC, NHS England Northern Senate, myself and a small team of Telehealth experts will be working in the five themed clinical areas highlighted above.   Indeed within our resources we will work in any pinch-point area identified within Primary and or Secondary care where Telehealth may bring an advantage.

If you would like to talk to me about an area in which you work that may benefit from Telehealth or Digital Technology please get in touch at paul.marriott@nhs.net